Tips for standing out in the tech job landscape

Showcasing your skills: A web developer's blueprint for landing the job


To stand out in the job market focus on a specific skillset, consistently learn/build, launch stuff into the world, and put effort into your applications.

In the current developer job landscape, creating a resume and portfolio that stands out is more important than ever. Having reviewed countless applications at FTL Finance and reflected on what differentiates the successful ones, I've decided to share what I think most developers are missing. By following these tips you'll be miles ahead of the competition.

I work at a relatively small company. What works at a larger company may be different.

Understand what matters: projects over pedigree

First and foremost, let’s debunk a common myth: your educational background does not define your potential as a developer. In my experience, I've found that personal projects provide far more insight into a candidate's capabilities and passion for web development than a degree. I'm more impressed by a portfolio full of projects that solved some problem than a resume filled with academic accolades. So, if you’re deciding between spending another hour fine-tuning your resume or developing your project, choose the latter.

The untold story of your GitHub activity

GitHub is a key tool in any developers toolkit, and with recent updates showcasing private repo activities, it’s turned into a narrative of your coding journey. This narrative is crucial. A vibrant GitHub profile that shows consistent activity tells me you’re engaged and continually improving your craft, not just coding when you have to. Remember, perfection is not the goal; passion and persistence are.

A good example of consistent work without any huge breaks.

Another example of someone consistently putting work in.

An example of a GitHub chart that is lacking. It looks like this dev use to be into programming a bit more than they are now.

Also, do not try to game this. That will be very obvious.

Projects and portfolios

Personal projects are your opportunity to stand out. They should be more than just assignments; they’re a testament to your dedication to web development. Here are a few pointers to ensure your projects make an impact:

  • Go Live: A live project is infinitely more compelling than code in a repo. It shows you can deliver a product, not just write code.
  • Design Matters: Even if you’re more of a coder, a well-designed project indicates you understand the importance of user experience.
  • Beyond Bootcamps: Showcase what you’ve built independently. This highlights your initiative and ability to apply what you’ve learned.
  • Domain Names: They’re a small investment in your professional image. A personal website or a project hosted on its own domain adds credibility to your work.

If you're struggling to come up with ideas, try not to think about it too much. Just start with a little game, a basic CRUD app, or whatever you want. Whenever you learn a new skill, create a project that showcases it, and launch it to a domain. Some examples are my morse code app or Slowydev's F1 Dashboard.

Sharpen your skillset

Job postings often list preferred skills, and it’s tempting to position yourself as a jack-of-all-trades. However, specialization matters. Focus on technologies and tools relevant to your desired role, and let your projects reflect this expertise. It’s about finding the right fit, not just any fit.

If you're applying for a Next.js developer job, your skill section should not look like this.

This may be very different for large companies that use automation to filter applications. I suggest looking at the job descriptions, and that will usually tell you what type of job/company it is.

The art of applying

Your application is your first impression. Make it count. Attention to detail in spelling, grammar, and presentation speaks volumes about your professionalism. Customize your application for the role you’re applying for, demonstrating your interest and initiative. And yes, links should be clickable, formatted, and lead to your best work.

Ensure your resume tells a story. How you got here... where you're at now... where you're wanting to go. I personally would avoid keyword packing and those types of things, but this is very company dependent.

Lastly, be sure your resume is a PDF and formatted well so it plays nicely with the applicant tracking systems.

In closing...

The journey to finding the perfect web development role is unique for everyone, but success often lies in the details. Your passion for coding, the projects you choose to showcase, and the professionalism of your application can set you apart in a sea of candidates. As you embark on this journey, remember that it’s not just about finding a job; it’s about discovering a role where you can contribute, grow, and excel.

Happy coding and good luck on your job hunt! And hit me up on 𝕏 if you have any questions @PerryRatcliff